The Gold Coast Titans have held their final training session ahead of tomorrow’s Round 19 clash with the Brisbane Broncos at Cbus Super Stadium.
Here are the “Five Talking Points” from Titans Senior Coach Craig Hodges before the Queensland derby.
1. English Import Kallum Watkins has already made a significant difference since joining the Gold Coast.
“I guess the best part for us as a club is the first impression was that he’s a quality man, which is outstanding,” Hodges said. “I’ve never heard any club in any sport complain they’ve got too many good quality people in their organisation, so that was a great thing for us.
“The more time we’ve got to spend with him over the three or four weeks waiting for his visa to clear, it has become really apparent the sort of leader that he is, and the experience that he’s had and playing in a good quality club, in a lot of big games – finals, grand finals and internationals.
“He has spoken really well in team meetings and shared some of his experiences and knowledge and been a real asset, before he’s even made a run or a tackle. He’s contributed enormously to what we’re trying to do, and I can definitely see he’ll be an asset.”
2. The club will take its time in regard to Ash Taylor’s return to the NRL stage.
“We’re not rushing Ash at all, he just needs to progress,” Hodges said. “If he’s ready next week, he’s ready next week. If he’s ready next year, he’s ready next year.
“Ideally, it would be better to be sooner rather than later. But to be honest, it didn’t really cross our minds this week. He just needs to get back playing football, and not with the expectation that anything is going to happen too fast, or needs to happen too fast.
“Ash just needs to progress, get back to enjoying it, get back to playing well and then we’ll all benefit from it.”
3. Riley Jacks will be rested, but the Titans have quality cover in Gordon & Brimson
“Ryley played last week with some crook ribs, and it was one of those ones where we made an educated guess or gamble and it didn’t quite work out for him,” Hodges said.
“He would force himself to play this week if he needed him to, but we’ve got an experienced player in Michael to come back at fullback and AJ to push up into the halves.
“We’ve seen what (Gordon) has done over a couple hundred games with a few clubs.
“AJ is a genuine footy player, so it wouldn’t matter where you played him. You could put him in the front row and he’d still give maximum effort. We won’t have any problems with him, and Tyrone (Roberts) is still in the halves in his normal position.”
4. The Titans will draw confidence, from their Round 13 win against Brisbane.
“Hopefully we can,” Hodges said. “We hope to draw confidence out of anything we’ve done well against opposition that we’ve played before.
“”We’ve got a few players that have been in that Brisbane system. They’re right up the road, they’re our nearest neighbor, so we compete on a few different levels.
“They do everything really well, and have done for a long time, so it’s a great opportunity not just for our playing group but for our fans and members to come along and get a win against a more established club that’s right next door.
“We don’t necessarily see them as ‘big brothers’. They’re just neighbours, and I guess we all like to compete against neighbours.
“They’re a direct competition for the kids that come through in the area, they’re a direct competitor for sponsors and commercially for fans and members, so we compete on a lot of levels with them.
“They’ve been around a lot longer than us, so they’re a great competitor to have and that probably brings out the best in us.”
5. The Titans have spent more time honing their own craft than worrying about Brisbane’s lineup.
“We’ve continued our theme from last week, where our focus is on really getting ourselves right,” Hodges said.
“It doesn’t matter what we know, or to what detail we know about the opposition. If we don’t get our stuff right, we’ll still fall down.”